Sandbox constructs, talk to me.
Play to me.
Dancing straw, pull on the wind,
give color and shape, give name.
I will be straw too one time, then many times,
and will dance with the straw in the wind.
These are joyful times, all alone, no interference. No you.
Mouse you sneaks in the sandbox,
chews on my straw and nests in my sand.
In possession of some key.
(I want to ask about the key, but I can’t.
I am supposed to be made of straw.)
Perturbed, I chase you out.
My world of sand and straw is too fragile for your beating heart.
It will fall apart, will be rubbed raw and threadbare.
But you sneak in again,
and look at me as if I am not straw,
and the ground as if it is not sand
but solid earth, rich and full.
Clearing the board I start over.
Drive you out
and begin to map out the pattern of this cloth.
Time begins to unspool, following its slow track.
Joyful in this beginning, this gradual awakening.
I never know when (or if) you’re going to appear.
So often the game plays out without a hitch,
or you appear so late that it makes no difference.
But I hear your heartbeat now: the rapid thudding,
and know you are here.
A mouse nuzzling through the straw,
invading the gentle morning of this world
when all may be ruined, all may be averted.
Bold, undisguised you,
and I, perfect shaft of damp straw;
it does not fool you.
Discovered at the worst moment,
tender and caught.
You, unruffled by the wind, realizing the position you’re in.
Realizing the position I’m in:
holding all the keys but unprepared to use them.
You have your own plans and ideas.
You dance around me,
playing provocateur, trying to make me
show my hand, my key.
I pretend I don’t know what you’re up to.
I hope you lose interest and give up.
Hope a chance wind sweeps you up,
like a great swell from the sea,
and I never see you again.
Hope you suddenly doubt yourself, blinking,
finally convinced by my damp posing,
my mute bafflement and loyalty to the wind
and wonder, isn’t this straw?
Dare I play your game?
Dare I nod to your tune?
I use one of my keys.
Walk through a door that shouldn’t open,
you at my heels, all eager to see backstage,
to see the actor who plays me.
You already know what you have known since you saw my face.
The same face you have seen dancing in and out
of pale replicas of borrowed worlds.
And finally I let you hear from my lips
what you have suspected the whole time.
That I am not the straw or the sand or even the wind.
That I know you aren’t either.
That I know that you know.
That yes, it was a character and it was a role.
That it was a game I play, usually alone.
“It was just for light fun and idle amusement,” I say.
“Nothing was at stake.
So why the sabotage?”
Then, in spite of our twin hearts,
I see how different you are from me.
What calms me enrages you.
What worries me soothes you.
What I call “light fun and idle amusement”
you call “life and death.”
“Everything was at stake,” you say.
You say, “this world is full, full to the brim. People just like you.”
Don’t you realize where you are?
Look around, it is a world of sand and straw
blowing in the wind.